In modern sales culture, nothing should be left to chance. How you see your sales process defines the results you get in the end.
Therefore, closing a good deal shouldn’t be a lucky occasion at your company. It must be the logical conclusion of healthy teamwork and the processes that are a natural part of your organization.
Before Belkins was even a concept, we had already become familiar with the price of not implementing sales processes when trying to run a business, especially in B2B.
Since we believe that there is a value to any experience, we learned that lesson, so you won’t have to - and here is our comprehensive take on the subject of the sales process, how to implement it and why you should implement it.
What is the sales process?
Such a simple, yet complicated question which you should be able to answer before you start planning your campaigns and benchmarks.
To put it shortly, a sales process is defined as a number of steps directed towards closing more deals, boosting up referrals and increasing margins. However, nobody will tell you how many of these steps you should make exactly - because it’s up to you to decide.
Every industry has its own set of specifics requirements and, therefore, you should calculate these steps accordingly. Nevertheless, there are some things that are fundamental for every company and business out there, so we will elaborate on them in detail to make your work easier.
How to implement sales process into your team?
A sales process is a system that benefits both your profits and employees. Basically, it’s a set of guidelines that help you navigate through your sales routine, and it’s a set of rules that make things more orderly for your team. If you work with multiple departments, you know the importance of a good communication and mutual understanding. With the sales process, you can build just that.
- Pinpoint complicated parts. Within a sales process, you can easily break down your work into blocks. With that segmented approach, finding and timely assisting your team members when they start having troubles with a certain task turns into an easy and natural process of teamwork.
- Share understanding. Implementing a sales process means working with data. Therefore, you will be able to illustrate customer behavior to your reps and coach them more efficiently.
- Create roadmaps. When your teams can see the entire route of your sales development, they get better at understanding their part in this big picture. Therefore, you get less confusion and more focused, motivate action.
When it comes to teaching your teams to work in sync with the sales process, you should treat it as helping your teams adapt to new behavior patterns and discipline rules. You should remember, that the perfect sales process is a combination of quality data and human behavior. That behavior includes your teams as well.
- Customize your approach. Before you start implementing a sales process, you should know the weakest and the strongest points of your team members. The diversity of skills is your superpower, so make sure that each skill finds its purpose.
- Encourage your teams. Discipline is a major part of proper business communication. However, it is important to highlight it at work. Make sure to emphasize how professional behavior and punctuality of your teams have contributed to your sales and motivate your teams to keep up. Present the new sales process as the mean to make their life easier and inject value into every moment at the workplace. It is true, after all.
- Bring clarity. When people see the results of their work,
they are ready to invest more effort so they could get even more
results and push themselves towards growth and development. Building
a sales process makes your team’s contribution visible and,
therefore, it makes the entire experience more rewarding.
- Provide your team with benchmarks that would mark their professional progress during each sales cycle. Let them evaluate themselves professionally and see the areas for improvement, the positive impact they make and the KPIs they can tackle.
- Build an individual plan for your team members, highlighting their achievements and pinpointing the ways their abilities can be developed through coaching.
- Develop a consistent process of behavior and performance research to create stability. Random bursts, sprints, and improvement marathons would only confuse your teams, while underdeveloped, random coaching programs that don’t take your team members’ individuality into account would result in more frustration and mistakes.
- Normalize routine. If your teams have to manually execute such mundane tasks as data profile update, changing lead status, etc., their levels of frustration grow. Automating the process through CRM allows them to skip the boring bits and go straight to customer nurturing and receiving a payoff, which, in turn, results in a boost of sales activity for you.
How to do CRM automation?
Automation has been the best tool for speeding up your internal processes and providing a clear view of your metrics, tasks and other data. This is why it is imperial to have a CRM that will fit your team size, team needs, and your company’s specifics.
What can be automated through CRM?
- Automated data gathering
- Automated lead data sorting
- Automated lead status update upon moving to the new sales pipeline stage
- Automated prospect metrics
- Automated call scheduling
- Automated campaigns for prospects as they progress through the sales cycle
How does it help your sales efforts?
- It highlights the sales momentum. You know the stage you’re currently on and, therefore, you know exactly what to do.
- It outlines your leads’ behavior. You understand what your leads are doing or what they are about to do. The more you observe, the more information you gain and more information means more ammunition to your personalization.
- It prevents data loss. It’s very easy to miss high-value data bits among the tons of metrics. By getting all your data profiles organized and broken down in comprehensive segments, you optimize your efficiency and spend less time on trivial tasks.
How to automate the sales process?
Build a strategy
It goes without saying that you should have your strategy outlined, structured and split into stages. Once you’re ready, you should create a pipeline that would mirror your stages in your CRM. In our case, we work with mailboxes a lot, so we use Streak to build pipelines directly in our mailboxes for faster access to important sales metrics.
After building a pipeline, you define your goals. You should outline a set of completion criteria for each stage by asking yourself the following questions:
- What is happening at this stage?
- What am I doing at this stage?
- What do I intend to receive?
- Did I receive that?
As you define these criteria, you enter them and let your CRM mark your stages with the corresponding status.
Define your goals for each stage
As you outline the main criteria for completing each stage, think about what you need to do in order to satisfy these criteria and then add these actions as tasks.
How would that help you?
- It will navigate your team. When your reps see “follow up” or “make a call” tasks appear in their CRM, it helps them to stick to the plan and move through the sales cycle easily.
- It will improve time management. Tying due dates to time-sensitive tasks will ensure that they’re completed in time and not lost in the volumes of data.
- It will refine your workflow. The more guidelines you create, the easier it is for you to communicate with your teams and help your new employees learn the ropes. Nowadays, lots of experts are used to working with CRMs, so the more detailed your automation is, the faster your new team members will adapt.
Select your team
As the CEO of B2B company, you have a powerful resource - your team. However, that resource can be quickly depleted due to chaotic task assignment, no clear hierarchy and lack of good coffee for your stressed-out employees.
When you have a task at hand but don’t know which one of your reps to assign, you waste precious minutes on figuring this out. Also, if you assign your task to whichever rep available, you may be putting extra workload on an employee that would have been achieved stellar results at completing other tasks. In the end, deadlines are barely reached, your team is exhausted and you’re stressed out.
Therefore, avoid the “we get there when we get there” approach and implement your sales process by organizing your human assets wisely.
- Assign reps based on their industry knowledge. At Belkins, we pay close attention to our departments and their workload. Selecting the right rep for the job takes knowledge of every team member’s skillset and expertise in the niche. For instance, if we’re working with customers from IT, we assign them specifically to the sales reps with an immense experience of selling to the IT companies.
- Know your reps, know your clients. If our customer comes from France or German, we assign them to the reps who know the language for an easier and more natural communication. It has been proven that the customers are more eager to cooperate with the reps who speak their native tongue freely.
- Differentiate between experts and experts-in-training. Never assign your teams to the task they’re not ready for. We base our user-assignment system on skills and experience levels, ensuring that high-value leads go to the most experienced team members while our newest team members complete their training and go through tests.
Automate your mailbox
Since email marketing is our bread and butter, we simply had to mention it. You cannot just let your incoming emails disappear in your inbox and leave your metrics unattended, especially if you work in B2B.
- It hurts your communication. Cold emails are the primary mean of communication between businesses. From Fortune 500 companies to startups, all the greetings and value propositions are exchanged via brief, time-effective emails. So, you must be confident about the quality of your communication.
- It damages your sales. Imagine receiving an email from a high-value prospect but failing to respond to it in time because it got buried under other incoming messages and, consequently, losing a deal. The stuff of nightmares! Alas, it happens way too often.
- It makes your brand look bad. Good timing can do wonders to your close rate and lack of it creates chaos that will be a pain to clean up. If your potential vendor keeps missing your emails, doesn’t respond to them for weeks or straight-up admits they cannot keep their mailbox under control, it will be a huge red flag for you.
To avoid all these troubles, you should keep your email data close at hand and inject automation into your email sending routine.
How can you automate your mailbox?
- Use Canned Responses. Canned responses allow you to quickly cover frequently asked questions or subjects in your email correspondence. By adding custom canned responses you can avoid typing one and the same information over and over again, and process more emails than usual.
- Snooze your emails. If you work with audiences across the globe, you don’t have to pull all-nighters at your U.S.-stationed office or twist your schedule to send emails to your clients in East Europe. Just set up your emails for delivery at the right time and the right moment and go on with your day.
- Segment your prospects. Aside from creating a pipeline in your mailbox, an action we strongly suggest doing, you should make sure that you use MailChimp for monitoring your email data. Breaking your prospects by the funnel stage allows you to pick the right template and the right value proposition. It also lets you keep an eye on your open rate and deliverability.
How to evaluate your sales process?
If you automate your sales process right, you receive an abundance of fresh data. Let’s see how you should measure it to get a clear idea about how your progress is going, whether it needs adjustments or not, and when to stop if things are not going your way.
As complicated as it sounds, keeping track of your sales process becomes routine when you know which metrics to take into account.
- Measured by: Team Participation levels
- Demonstrates: How well the processes are utilized and executed by your team
- Why is it important?
The more your team is engaged, the higher is the value of data you receive.
- Measured by: Conversion rates between stages
- Demonstrates: How much time it takes for your prospects to convert to the next stage of your sales funnel
- Why is it important?
It’s crucial to be able to determine the weakest and the strongest parts of your pipeline
- Measured by: Leads converted to customers
- Demonstrates: How your sales perform
- Why is it important?
It gives you a clear insight into your sales and shows the first symptoms of performance issues
- Measured by: The average amount of every closed sale
- Demonstrates: How much your supply meets the demand
- Why is it important?
With this, you can pinpoint your most successful products, services, and strategies
- Measured by: Pipeline value and win rate
- Demonstrates: How well your end results keep up with your estimated results
- Why is it important?
Knowing what you expect from your sales cycle allows you to map your current pace and make necessary adjustments
- Measured by: The time necessary to complete a cycle
- Demonstrates: How refined your sales process is
- Why is it important?
The reduction or the increase of your sales cycle length allows you to see whether a sales process have been successfully implemented
- Adoption Rate allows you to estimate the full impact of your sales process before you get to take a look at your sales cycle length, so this is your priority metric at the beginning of your sales process implementation.
- To get the most accurate Key Funnel Conversion Rates data, select from 1 to 2 indicators. For instance, see how many leads convert from “No response” to “In talks” after receiving your follow-ups. By performing such segmented research, you find the strongest links in your campaign.
- If your Win Rate is low, don’t be in a hurry to doom your entire sales process. This metric is defined by every process of your sales, which means that you must comb through it from the first to the final stage and locate the culprit. It can be a lack of qualified lead data, no data enrichment, absence of team communication, marketing content, etc. Low Win Rate is just the first symptom of one or several processes underperforming.
- When it comes to exploring your Deal Size, go through each part individually: from your sales reps to customers’ locations and services. This metric usually points out the most successful salespeople and product at your company so you could implement the winning technique and approach for other services.
- If you’ve only started implementing your sales approach, you shouldn’t look at your Sales Forecast Accuracy until you build up enough win rate. Only after this (and several months of the sales process), you can get relevant data from this metric.
- If your Sales Cycle Length is far from desirable, you must bring your attention to your prospect qualification techniques: are you targeting the decision-makers? Do you gather enough data? How well does your team understand the criteria necessary for completing the stage?
As you can see, a sales process sets things in motion by uniting three important components:
- People. You rely on your professionals and experts to get results. They move your business forward. So make sure that your sales process is about them, first and foremost. It’s not about exclusively you because you’re a part of your team as much as they’re part of you. And your team deserves transparent roadmaps, high-quality work organization and zero confusion at the stage of each sales cycle. It’s important for your team to understand the unity of your company’s goal and purpose. The more clarity you bring into their workflow, the more visibility you add to their payoff, the more results you will get in the end.
- Automation. Automation is your main tool for gleaning relevant sales data and making your team’s work easier. Finding a CRM that will cover your business needs and have all the assets for your end goals would let you structure and organize your entire sales process from Stage 1 to Stage 7 as well as take some of the workload off your team’s shoulders.
- Data. The lifeblood of your sales process, your sales data will be your main indicator of how well you have implemented your sales process and when you should intervene with new adjustments. Make sure to keep track of relevant metrics, from Adoption Rate to Sales Cycle Length, so you can come up with a plan B when necessary.
When you get all these three parts covered, the rest depends on the specifics of your niche and industry. As long as you keep your foundation solid, you will be able to adjust your business to any challenges you encounter.
If you have any more specific questions regarding implementing a sales process for a certain industry, let us know. After working with over 30 industry verticals, we would be happy to share our experience in sales development with you.